Angered by the price of red chilli crashing, a group of farmers in the Byadgi chilli market in Karnataka, went on the rampage on Monday evening, pelting stones, ransacking the APMC office, and torching several vehicles.

The Byadgi chilli market in Haveri district of Central Karnataka is known for the dry chillies grown in the region. Byadgi chillies, which have received the Geographical Indication tag, are famous for their low pungence and high colour content.

Sources said the chilli market witnessed high arrivals of around 3.1 lakh bags of 30 kg each on Monday, and the trade faced a shortage of labourers to handle the huge stocks. The bulk of the arrivals were hybrids of the Byadgi chilli variety, from the second and third pickings, which are not of top quality. Inadequate demand from buyers resulted in the price crash, sources said.

According to reports, the police have brought the situation under control. PTI reported that Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara told reporters that chilli prices had dropped from Rs 20,000 per quintal to Rs 8,000 in a single day, which led to a commotion at the Haveri APMC market. It is being checked whether the price fall happened in all the APMC markets or was only limited to the Haveri market.

The Chief Minister has asked for a report on the reasons behind the fall in prices. Parameshwara said further action will be taken based on the report, PTI said.

Red chilli prices have been on a bearish trend this marketing season in Karnataka, as the crop has been good, with farmers expanding acreage and dry weather supporting growth. While growers, despite facing drought in most parts of the growing regions, have harvested a bigger crop, prices have not been up to their expectations.

Last year prices were unusually high, even exceeding Rs 50,000 a quintal for the top quality original Byadgi chillies, as the crop size was lower. Buoyed by last year’s high prices, farmers had expanded the acreage this year.

Also, higher carry-forward stocks from last year have been weighing on prices this year. Karnataka has a cold storage capacity of around 80 lakh bags. The carry-forward stocks at the start of the season were estimated to be around 25-30 lakh bags of 30 kg each.

Byadgi chillies are used by the masala companies and certain hybrids are used by oleoresin makers. Red chilli, being a cash crop, does not come under the ambit of a minimum support price. Karnataka had over 1.06 lakh hectares under red chilli cultivation during 2022-23, and production stood at over 1.67 lakh tonnes. The bulk of the red chillies produced in Karnataka are of the Byadgi variety and its hybrids.